Raise your hand if you’re gonna have a weird Mother’s Day! While there are so many things I can’t do anything about, I might be able to help you out a little bit with this recipe for Strawberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake. Talk about fabulous!
It’s a show stopper and it’s multiple layers, and it’s so much easier than you’d think to make. I love recipes like this that make you look like a hero but really are kind of a cheat. Shhh, don’t tell anyone. Just say thanks when the compliments roll in!
About Strawberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake:
There are four layers to this cake. The bottom is an easy, stir together coffee cake base and it’s just a humble little recipe. It’s the foil against which everything else shines. That’s topped by a layer of strawberries (I have other suggestions below if you don’t have any) and that layer just melts into a jammy deliciousness between the cake and the cream cheese layer. And ya gotta love what that slightly tangy creamy cream cheese layer does for this cake!
What’s gonna steal the show here though is the streusel topping and this cake is kind of heavy on that crispy, crunchy deliciousness! It makes the cake. I’ve tossed in just a few sliced almonds because they compliment the flavor of just about any berry so well but it’s just as good without them if you’re not a “nutty” person. The sheer amount of streusel can make this cake bake up a little unpredictably with waves and buckles on the top. It gives this cake, I think, a rustic charm. More streusel vs a perfectly flat top is a trade-off I’m 100 percent behind.
This cake is absolutely fabulous, can hardly put your fork down, not a noise in the room as any conversation comes to a halt good when it’s served slightly warm. The streusel is crisp, the cream cheese slightly gooey and the strawberries warm and jammy & the cake portion light and fluffy. If you do happen to have any leftover, it’s still fab but the flavor mellows a bit. The streusel, since it’s a white sugar one, stays crunchy but there’s an exchange of moisture throughout the cake and the cake portion becomes denser, moister. So it’s a little different, still delish but do be aware of that if you’re thinking about making ahead.
Variations on Strawberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake:
Right off the bat I want to mention a couple of things since there are so many who are in the kitchen making do! Kudos to you! If you have no strawberries, try this with another berry. I would guess that you might even be able to try another fruit, something like diced peaches, pears or nectarines; just make sure they’re not too wet. I’d probably stay away from anything else.
And the other thing? You’ll lose some of the drama but if you don’t have a springform pan, just bake this in a 8 x 8″ or a 9″ x 9″ and watch the timing.
The flavors of this cake are delicate and straightforward and personally, I like to let the berry flavor shine. You won’t find any spices like cinnamon or nutmeg or anything to compete; just a little vanilla to enhance the flavor. If you’d like, you can always add a little spice to the cake or to the streusel. The streusel, too, is a white sugar one and I chose that specifically because I wasn’t looking for a gooey, caramelly taste that a brown sugar streusel gives so many coffee cakes.
The cake’s easy, but it always helps to have a rundown on the plays when you’re talking multiple components to a recipe. Here’s how I manage it.
- Cream Cheese: Set out to bring to room temperature and soften, preferably the night before.
- Strawberries: First wash the strawberries, preferably let dry, then slice and set aside. You don’t want any fruit to be too wet, which could potentially make the cake soggy.
- Streusel: Make and set aside in the freezer preferably or the fridge if there’s no room in the freezer. This is going to up your game on any streusel, but more on streusel, below. This can be done several days ahead.
- Pan & Oven: Preheat oven & spray pan; Do it now, it will be ready by the time the cake is done.
- Cream Cheese Layer: Do next and set aside. This can be done by hand but is so much easier with a mixer.
- Cake Layer: Mix by hand, spread in pan.
- Assembly: Top the cake with the strawberries, leaving any juice behind. Go light in the very center but spread as close to the edges as you can. No need to be pretty, it will all melt down into a jammy substance. Dollop the cream cheese layer then spread it out gently, almost nudging it into place. Add the streusel, starting at the outside edges and working towards the center. Do as evenly as possible. Don’t overload the center!
- Bake: Watch the color and the set to determine when done. This cake can get darker on the outside so nudge the cake aside a bit if you need to see how dark it is on the sides. The top, the edges excepted will still be pretty pale. The center of the cake, about 3 1/2 inches or so should have a very slight wobble when done but should not be overly “gushy.” It will firm up as it cools.
- Doneness: This is not an exact science. It took me a couple of times to “learn” exactly how it felt when it was at the doneness I prefer, and it took 54 minutes in my oven which is accurate. That being said all ovens work a little differently.
- Cool: If your cake as it’s cooling is very uneven, you can slightly press down on any protruding areas, but it should look “rustic.” This cake shines if served while still very slightly warm.
These hints will up your game on any streusel you make, where it’s a white sugar one like in this recipe, or a brown sugar streusel, or whether or not you add any nuts.
Use cold butter, cut into small pieces. I’ll cut the stick in rows, three down the length, then turn it and cut three more down the length then chop across the stick of butter multiple times. You’ll end up with a bunch of cubes & rectangles, some larger, some smaller.
Add your flour, sugar, and don’t forget the salt into a bowl. Mix, then sprinkle the cubes of butter over the flour mixture. Nix the mixer and really get into it with your hands, tossing the butter so it’s covered with flour and then work it together with rubbing and pressing it together with your fingers, but trying not to overwork it. You don’t want powder, you want small chunks.
Test the streusel in several areas by squeezing it together. It should hold together. If it doesn’t you need to work it a little more or add just a little more butter. Squeeze together small portions of it, about half of the total, then break those portions up into small pieces and toss in the flour remaining in the bottom of the bowl. That will give you nice little chunks and a lot of them.
Freeze if possible, or ar least refrigerate, while making the cake then sprinkle on the cake as evenly as possible, starting from the outside edge, except always use slightly less streusel in the very center; not enough to be noticeable by eye, but just a little less so that it won’t weigh the cake down and cause it to not rise or cook through in the center.
Saving Money on Strawberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake:
The biggest impact on the pricing is how much those strawberries (or other fruit) are going to set you back. Costco and Aldi both have great prices, but if you don’t have access to either, use my strategy of shopping (and splurging) on your berries during any holiday sale, especially the summer holidays. Even if berries are on sale throughout the summer, the stores heavily discount berries during the pre-holiday sales to lure you in the door.
The rest of this recipe is pretty modest in ingredients. Butter, though, always a little pricier compared to alternatives and it’s going to give you the best streusel. There’s only one package of cream cheese in this recipe, which isn’t much compared to an alternative like a full-sized cheesecake. Butter and cream cheese are another one of those items I check for at the buyer’s club, Aldi or buy on sale and they’re on sale prior to every holiday.
You’re going to have extra strawberries to use maybe as a garnish, but if you want to make best use of them, I’d suggest stretching them by including them in something like a fruit salad. This recipe using going to use a little less than a standard package. There’s no use in trying to use more because the cake can’t withstand the extra weight and/or a lot of the extra juices given off by more strawberries. This is one of the few cases where less really IS more.
Hint: Make your own flavored water. Wash the whole strawberry, stems and all and then soak the stems & hulls in water. You would not believe the amount of flavor the water picks up from just those bits you might toss otherwise. For more guidance, see my post on “Spa Water on a Budget.”
Strawberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Total Time: 1 1/2 hours + cool
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
- Category: Breakfast or Brunch
- Cuisine: American
For the strawberry layer:
- 1 1/2 cups fresh sliced strawberries
For the streusel topping:
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/3 cup white sugar (granulated sugar)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons butter in small pieces, cold
- 1/4 cup sliced blanched almonds, optional
For the cream cheese layer:
- 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
For the cake:
- 1 3/4 cups flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- 1 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan and set aside.
Cream Cheese Layer:
Using a medium-low speed, beat cream cheese until just smooth. Add in the sugar, salt, Beat the cream cheese on medium speed for about 30 seconds until smooth. Add in the sugar, salt, egg, and vanilla and beat until just mixed Set aside.
Add flour, sugar, and salt in a small bowl and mix together. Add butter and toss with fingers to coat with flour. Work the mixture with fingertips to form crumbs. Check the consistency by squeezing a small amount together. It should hold in a mass and if nor, add just a little more butter and mix in. Squeeze together in small portions about half of the crumb mixture. Break all of them apart into small pea-sized bits and toss with the remaining crumb mixture. Spread on a cookie sheet and freeze if possible, if not refrigerate, until needed.
If using almonds, mix in right before layering the streusel on top of the cake.
To make the cake, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl and set aside. In another bowl, add the eggs, beaten to mix, then whisk in the yogurt or sour cream and vanilla. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the egg/yogurt mixture in. Gently mix together, being careful not to overmix. Add to the prepared pan and smooth into an even layer.
Add strawberries in an even layer, being careful to not overload them in the center of the cake. Dollop the cream cheese mixture over and gently nudge cream cheese into an even layer. Smooth as best as possible. Top with the streusel, starting at the outside edges, keeping the layer as even as possible but taking care to use just slightly less in the very center.
Bake & Serve:
Bake in the preheated oven for about 50 to 55 minutes until the sides and very top edges of the cake are golden brown (the top center will be paler) and the center of the cake, about 3 1/2 inches wide, has just a slight wobble but isn’t “loose.” Remove and set aside to cool for about thirty minutes before removing springform pan.
Serve slightly warm of cool, with a garnish of strawberries if desired. Store in an airtight container for up to three days. Expect texture to begin changing after the first day.
Keywords: Almonds, Breakfast or Brunch Dish, coffee cake, Cream Cheese, Nuts and Seeds, Sour cream, Strawberries, Yogurt
I’ll be sharing this week at Fiesta Friday #327, an ongoing collection of recipes by multiple bloggers. Stop by if you have a chance and check it out.